Our Thoughts on Developer Preview of Android N

Yesterday, Google unveiled a developer preview of Android N. It was a bit early this time, considering that the Google I/O is still ahead of us. One of the fun parts of that platform is all the guesswork that goes into the name of the sweet to be used for the version. This time, Google might be going for an online poll to let the fans decide.

True to the initial, there were a lot of ‘New’ features in this release, many of which Google didn’t even mention. Some of them include UI changes, but unlike the minor variations of the stock Google Interface released by Lollipop and Marshmallow, Google now allows changes that earlier were possible only by installing a custom ROM.

Self-professed geeks have always loved the open-source community and the software tinkering that it allows. There was always a risk of the dreaded “Brick”, but that’s in the past now. Without actually being a custom Rom, Android N looks just like one.

For instance, a lot of geeks lamented the loss of Ice Cream Sandwich’s dark interface in the android UI (mostly settings menu). Android N allows you to switch between a light and dark interface. The cherry on the top is how you can set it to automatic and it would itself change to dark according to the time or location just like in Google maps.

Dark Interface in Android UI

Seamless Switching Between Applications

One of the cool features in Windows OS that had Android users looking over enviously was the seamless switching between apps. Well, you can fix your attention firmly on your screen now, as the feature has come to Android!

By double-tapping the recent button, you can switch between the present app and the app last used. Continuously tapping it allows you to switch between all the apps used previously.

Notifications as the UI

It was always kind of annoying when you were buffering a video on YouTube and you got a message from someone. You had to switch between the apps, come back and the buffering started again and boy was it a pain in the a**! (Not to forget a waste of bandwidth as well)

I can’t remember how many times I ignored replying while listening to my favorite music on YouTube.

There was a time when the idea of Notifications being the next UI caught the fancy of the tech-world, before it was replaced by the idea of conversational UI. However, there is no doubt that actionable notifications can radically improve the experience of using a product, and it finally comes to Android with N. Users no longer need to switch between applications for a simple action.

It gets even better. Multiple notifications from the same app can be bundled together so that there is not clutter whatsoever, and unbundled by a simple two finger expand gesture.

Google has released a RemoteInput notification API for developers to integrate their feature with App.

Multi-Window Support

Multi-Window Support

This is by far the best addition to the android release. Back in the days, Samsung tried to get their hands dirty by including this feature but the apps were really limited and let’s be honest, Touchwiz is ugly. Considering this is just the developer preview, the word out there is that it works flawlessly. The manifest android:resizableActivity will be available for apps that will be built on Android N and above. There is also picture-in-picture support just like in TVs or like you can see when you press the back button while watching a video on YouTube. So you can text and watch a mini video at the same time. Also, you can just drag and drop text between apps. That is true multitasking for me!

Blocking Numbers

Blocking Spammers

Blocking spammers, your ex or creeps was never that effective in android, but this release incorporates system-level blocking. All the apps on the phone can access the block list, so blocking someone from calling you would block him from sending an SMS or even a WhatsApp. Although not so much useful in India, the new blocking feature would delete the voicemail coming from a blocked number that wasn’t there in the previous release of android. Now that is the security (Apple, are you watching!)

Conclusion

All in all the New Android N seems a paradise with no expected troubles in it (Fingers crossed). It would hopefully make apps fun to use and more user-friendly. This is just the first developer preview and I have a feeling that a lot more is in store in the upcoming builds

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